A suggestion from @maggiethesinger to visit Conch Heaven prompted me to open up a wikipedia page and find out if a conch is what I think it is! Turns out, it was the very same conch I was thinking about… a sea snail. One that really only lives in the water by the Bahamas and therefore is more commonly found in and around the Caribbean and South of Florida.
I definitely wanted to give this a go… sea snail for the second time on the tour… if it was half as nice as the first in Monterey then it was gonna be good!
The restaurant is a pretty low key affair and on a Tuesday lunchtime (amidst a horrific downpour of rain – apparently that’s quite normal here) was fairly quiet. I took a seat and asked the server what Conch options were on the menu. The conch stew and the grilled conch sounded brilliant, but were only available at certain times! Luckily there was plenty more to choose from… I grabbed a plate of Conch Fritters to start and the Crack Conch with Rice ‘n’ Peas as a main.
After eating the delicious meal I managed to get a chat with the cook there too… Liz came wandering across the restaurant to see me so I asked her a few questions, many of which she just laughed at and said that it was a big secret… but this is what I did learn:
- The fresh conch come in direct from the Bahamas, having been shelled.
- The fritters are made by chopping up the conch meat and mixing with spices, herbs, self-raising flour and milk to form a batter, then are deep-fried.
- They are dipped in a sauce that resembles Thousand Island but Liz wouldn’t give away any more than that. I reckon I could recreate something similar with what I was tasting…. some zesty lime and maybe a little cayenne spice!?!
- The Crack Conch (AKA Fried Conch) was tenderised and bashed out until nice and thin, then battered in what appeared to be a thin, light tempura-style batter.
- Top advice: eat whatever you make as soon as its fried. It can become a little tough as it cools, even after all the tenderising.
The meal was delicious, the portions were huge and I would highly recommend it. There was only one embarrassing bit to the trip… pretty much as I was about to leave they corrected me on how I’d been pronouncing conch for the past hour! I’d given it a ‘ch’ sound at the end like ‘church’. Turns out it should be a hard ‘ck’ sound… more like when you say ‘knock’ (Read it as Conck)
I left feeling a little sheepish… and as I walked out I saw the bbq around the back where they grill the conch and were also cooking the Jerk Chicken… man I wish you guys had suggested I eat Jerk Chicken too (yup, as well as the conch)… It smelt incredible!